Justin Wilson has been brewing for 3 1/2 years, though he really began to get serious about it in the fall of 2013. His passion for homebrewing was born out of his love of great craft beer, which he has been drinking for a decade. "Honestly, I just wanted to make great beer." he says.
Wilson went to school in the great beer town of Philadelphia so he knew quality beer and challenged himself to make just that. When he befriended award-winning homebrewer Stephen Durley he really saw how good homebrew could be. He says,"...my goal was to be as good as he was."
Brewing on a 20-gallon Blichmann boil kettle and mashing with a 15 gallon Blichmann mash tun wrapped in insulation, he's spent the past few years brewing on his stove utilizing all 4 burners at once. He uses a pump to move his wort, and chills using a plate chiller. "I just moved to Astoria and now have access to a garage and space, I am in the process of switching to propane" he says, which I'm sure makes the average city apartment brewer in NYC more than just a little jealous.
Justin was paired with Chris Prout of Greenpoint Beer and Ale Co. Greenpoint is the brewery that provides Dirck The Norseman with their house beers and is distributed throughout NYC. Describing the experience, he beams,"Chris was amazing, he shared so much. But, he never treated me like an inferior." Not a surprise, Prout is a favorite son of the NYC scene; a great homebrewer gone pro. Chris is also well known throughout the community for sharing his knowledge. "We met to discuss the recipe and flashed out our goal. He took some of my ideas and I utilized his expertise."
Greenpoint has been getting a reputation for the amazing kettle-soured beers they make, so it's exciting to learn that the collaboration beer they are bringing is a kettle-soured session ale made with rhubarb. Clocking in at 4% ABV, the beer is hopped with Mosaic and fermented with the wild yeast Brettanomyces Bruxellensis. "The goal was to be ambitious, but use ingredients and methods Chris and I knew." He said. Wilson will be bringing a homebrewed dry hopped sour beer with an ABV of around 5.5%. In fact, from what I've been told, all 3 of the beers at the Greenpoint/Wilson table will be fermented with Brettanomyces.
When asked if he wants to own his own brewery one day, he replies,"Sort of. My girlfriend, Amanda, and I want to start a bed and breakfast with a brew pub attached. We haven't fleshed out the specifics, but the goal would be a destination spot ideally near a ski resort or rural location."
Justin's homebrew and his one-of-a-kind collaboration with Greenpoint, plus a beer from Greenpoint will be competing alongside similar representation from homebrewers collaborating with Finback, Other Half, Rockaway, and Sixpoint at Covenhoven on Saturday, June 27th. They will all be competing for the Audience Choice Award. The winner will have their beer brewed on their partnered brewery's full system. Only 1 of the 5 collaboration beers will be made again and it is up to you to decide which will soon be served at bars across NYC. Advance tickets are available on Brown Paper Tickets. Get yours today here.